Hemp. Derived from the plant Cannabis Sativa, it may leave one thinking about marijuana rather than plant-based plastics, treeless paper, fabric, and healthy cooking. However, within recent years, we have seen the rise of hemp being used in the fashion and culinary worlds, giving people the opportunity to see this plant in a new light.
Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis Sativa, one of the fastest growing plants that originated in China and Taiwan circa 8000 BCE. An excellent source of plant-based protein, hemp comes in the form of seeds, hemp hearts, oil, and milk. Historians have found art, religious texts, and records that depict the cultivation of hemp, which was used for its seeds and oil. It was even referred to as the “King of Seeds” in ancient Hindu texts. Throughout history, humans used hemp fiber to craft clothes, shoes, ropes, and paper. During the 1600s in Great Britain, hemp was used to construct battleships, sails, maps, documents, and supplies. Surprisingly, hemp was a form of currency in colonial America and, in 1850, 8,400 hemp plantations were documented.
Considered by some to be one of nature’s “perfect foods,” hemp seeds are abundant in essential nutrients. They contain ample amounts of fiber, zinc, magnesium, iron, and antioxidants. They’re one of the richest plant sources of the essential fatty acids (EFAs) omega-3 and 6. These fatty acids are great for brain development, strengthening the immune system, and keeping the heart healthy. Three tablespoons of hemp contain 10g of protein, 15g of heart-healthy fats, 180 calories, and 0g of sugar.
Cooking with Hemp
Hemp seeds make the perfect companion for healthy recipes and baked goods. Their nutty flavor makes them perfect for both savory and sweet dishes. You can easily add hemp seeds to your smoothies like in this Superfood Spirulina Smoothie or this Banana, Date, and Hemp Smoothie from The Kefir Cookbook.
Hemp seeds also make a wonderful garnish for smoothie bowls, energy bites, mashed potatoes, and salads. Below is photographic proof of how simple it is to incorporate them into your diet! We topped a toasted sweet potato slice with a Plain Kefir Cup, avocado slices, and hemp seeds. (You can easily use bread or a bagel!)